Businesses are being asked to express interest in trialling a new TfL service that would operate flexibly in an area in need of improved public transport

 

 

Transport for London announced last week that it is exploring the potential of using a new ‘demand responsive’ TfL bus service to enhance London’s public transport network, initially in car dependent outer London.

Uber, Citymapper and Chariot are already operating app-based shared ride services in the capital (see panel).TfL is now approaching a range of businesses – including traditional bus operators and tech companies – to see if the latest innovations in ride-booking technology can be used to create a new TfL bus service that complements the capital’s existing bus network. The new services, for nine passengers or more, would not replace any existing TfL services.

Businesses are being asked to express their interest in trialling a new TfL service that would operate flexibly in an area in need of improved public transport. The partnership with TfL could, for example, be an on-demand minibus booked through an app, or perhaps a service running on a semi-fixed route that can divert to pick up individual passengers.

Recent rapid advances in technology have increased the potential of trialling such services. TfL says that if a trial goes ahead it will involve a small number of vehicles and it will be held in an area of outer London where car dependency is high and other forms of public transport are less viable. Any trial would run for no longer than 12 months.

The transport co-ordinating body says that a trial would help it to better understand how such services could complement the existing bus network. It will also help TfL to set standards for a potential future TfL service around safety, accessibility, air quality, affordability, the use of concessions (such as the Freedom Pass) and customer service. It is proposed that the mayor’s minimum professional London bus driver wage and Licence for London would apply to this trial.

We are currently exploring the feasibility of a small demand responsive transport trial in areas of outer London where car dependency is higher

“We want to understand the potential of new TfL demand responsive services to improve public transport for all Londoners,” said Michael Hurwitz,TfL’s director of transport innovation. “We are currently exploring the feasibility of a small demand responsive transport trial in areas of outer London where car dependency is higher and other forms of public transport are less viable.

“By approaching potential partners, we are engaging the market to establish interest in delivering a trial of a new TfL service. Any potential trial would be a new TfL service designed to support the existing local transport network, improve accessibility and London’s air quality.”

More than two billion passenger trips are made on London’s 9,300 “traditional” buses every year,
but patronage fell in 2017. This was despite a fares freeze and the introduction of the new Hoppa fare, allowing an hour of unlimited bus and tram journeys for the price of a single fare.

 

LONDON’S ‘SHARED RIDE’ SERVICES

uberPOOL

What’s the sales pitch? ‘Cheaper, smarter, shared’
Who’s behind it? Uber
When was it launched in London? December 2015
What vehicles are used? 
Most likely a Toyota Prius
Is it DRT? 
Yes, it’s a shared taxi. Users get a discount for sharing their ride.
How is it licensed? 
Private Hire Vehicle licence from Transport for London

Smart Ride

What’s the sales pitch? ‘A new innovation in shared transportation’
Who’s behind it? Citymapper (London-based app)
When was it launched in London? February 2018
What vehicles are used? 
People carriers (six seats)
Is it DRT? 
Yes, it’s a shared taxi.
How is it licensed? 
Private Hire Vehicle licence from Transport for London

Chariot

What’s the sales pitch? ‘Mass transit reinvented’
Who’s behind it? Ford Smart Mobility
When was it launched in London? January 2018
What vehicles are used? 
14 Ford Transit minibuses (14 seats)
Is it DRT? 
No. The four routes are fixed, although there is no timetable.
How is it licensed? 
London Service Permit from Transport for London

 

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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